document translation and personal data protection laws
Thread poster: MariusV

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 15:20
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
Sep 9, 2007

Probably many of us have translated some official documents of persons (passport copies, birth/death/marriage/divorce certificates, diplomas, etc.) where such docs contain "sensitive personal information" (as defined by EU legislation and national legislation based on those EU legislative docs of the EU member countries). Just a simple question - can a translator or an agency just take (or make) passport or certificate copy for translation, have its data without any restrictions or one needs need to implement certain requirements (like to get an official registration of personal data holder and so on) ? Of course, we are not frauds who will use this info for some malignant purposes, but I just read some EU docs and our national law on personal data protection and, hey, so many strict things found there and it seems, based on that, that having a scanned personal ID copy is almost a criminal offence. I wonder how are these things in reality?



[Edited at 2007-09-09 23:11]


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:20
English to German
+ ...
Good question. Sep 9, 2007

However, I think that as soon as a person commissions an agency with the translation of such documents, enters a contract, and pays for the translation, the permission is officially given.

What to do with such documents after the job is completed, is a different question. Personally, I shred each and every print-out after delivery, but the data remains on my computer and - as a business - I am supposed keep proof of my services.

IMO, the situation is similar to a tax filer/tax accountant-relationship. According to law, your personal data are nobodies business, still, you need their services.


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 15:20
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
comission in writing? Sep 9, 2007

Nicole Schnell wrote:

However, I think that as soon as a person commissions an agency with the translation of such documents, enters a contract, and pays for the translation, the permission is officially given.

What to do with such documents after the job is completed, is a different question. Personally, I shred each and every print-out after delivery, but the data remains on my computer and - as a business - I am supposed keep proof of my services.

IMO, the situation is similar to a tax filer/tax accountant-relationship. According to law, your personal data are nobodies business, still, you need their services.


OK, very logical. Then more questions. If the client has a contract or, at least, a written and signed permission of the client for the agency or the freelancer to have his/her personal data for being able to translate a document, no problem. Permission is give, and you have not "stolen" the data. But again - do you have the right just to have such data? OK, one person. But many translators have dozens of docs translated per day. And another issue - do you have the right to store it (you have to, as you said, for a proof of your translation)...So, I see two stages here related to personal data. And the law, at least as it sounds formally, does not give a clear definition if a translator/agency can just have and store this info based on the consent of the client only...I am not a lawyer, maybe I do not understand those things as these should be understood, but...Just interested...Esp. what relates to agencies that have hundreds of docs per year or even per month?


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Beatriz Galiano
Argentina
Local time: 09:20
English to Spanish
+ ...
Good Answer Sep 10, 2007

I think you can keep the copy of your translations and a copy of the original for people to see the source text.

Now, the law applies to everybody no matter the profession they might have. So, I suppose you are not allowed to 'show' the whole document, maybe the name of the individual or company should be protected so that his/their privacy is respected.

That is, I think documents should be edited so as to keep them anonymous, but I dont know exactly what is demanded by law in these cases.

Now if you are talking about agencies that have loads of data of this kind, I suppose that as long as they do not use them for any other purpose than as files of work done, they are harmless.

CU


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:20
English to German
+ ...
This is getting really interesting. Sep 10, 2007

Because you are right.

Two of my regular clients are specializing in such documents and I am translating such files by the pound, from immigration papers (which include each and every personal document you can think of), to criminal records.

Which raises the question if only sworn in translators should be authorized to do this.

[Edited at 2007-09-10 00:22]


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:20
English to Spanish
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Return Them Sep 10, 2007

I have no idea of any laws on this subject in the US. I translate a large number of personal documents, some given to me directly by the parties involved and others by third parties (law firms, etc.).

Sometimes I work from originals and also ask for copies, and sometimes from copies alone, and I return all this to the client. I stamp and initial the copies as evidence of the document I worked from.

So I do not retain any originals; only the translation that remains on my computer.

Nicole says: Which raises the question if only sworn in translators should be authorized to do this.

Of course there are no "sworn translators" in the US. In Europe there may be but I would bet that only for certain language pairs and not for others.


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:20
Spanish to English
+ ...
Less of an issue in the U.S. Sep 10, 2007

Where I think this would be most tricky is within the E.U. (judging from the legal notices regarding personal information storage that appear on all sorts of documents in E.U. countries).

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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:20
English to German
+ ...
Yes, there are Sep 10, 2007

Henry Hinds wrote:

Of course there are no "sworn translators" in the US.


To be allowed to translate confidential documents for the government, the FBI and such, you need security clearance.

I was contacted recently regarding some translations that involved social security files and had to decline because I never bothered to obtain such a security clearance.


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 15:20
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
no sworn translators in the US? Sep 10, 2007

Henry Hinds wrote:


Of course there are no "sworn translators" in the US. In Europe there may be but I would bet that only for certain language pairs and not for others.


REALLY? In my country the Law on Sworn Translators is just on the initial stage (just the first drafts and it might take years till the law comes into life) and I think many things regarding personal data protection can be regulated on the basis of such a law.

And under our law on personal data protection there is one thing - the personal data holder (i.e. the client) has the right to ask the person/company to which he/she gave his/her personal data upon his/her own consent for what purposes, extent, etc. this given data is used, to what third parties it was given (and the law defines strict cases upon which this data can be dislosed with the obligation to inform the personal data holder in advance), and the one who got personal data from the personal data holder SHALL provide a detailed response in writing within 30 days about that. If the answer is not provided or if the data holder thinks the answer is not sufficient, he/she can demand a supplementary answer or file a complaint to the Agency for Personal Data Protection and the one who misuses the received personal data can have quite serious consequences (including big fines).

So, maybe, a contract/permission allowing to use the personal data is solving the first step and that requirement for the data holder to provide a detailed info about the usage of this data solves the issue?


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Alayna Keller
Local time: 14:20
Spanish to English
+ ...
Disclaimer Sep 10, 2007

I recently translated the following disclaimer for a notary:
I, the Notary, have informed the party hereto that his personal data will be incorporated in the different files of personal data of this notarial office, for strict compliance with notarial functions, and he may exercise the rights that are his under Organic Act 15/1999 on Data Protection, at this office. Said data shall not be transferred to any type of organization, be it public or private, save in the cases established by Ministry of Justice Order 484/2003.

(Ironically, I'm probably infringing data-protection legislation by sharing this paragraph...)

As you can see, Spain has got data privacy pretty closely regulated. It has also got an official agency, the Data Protection Agency, that does all the enforcement legwork. All keepers of databases that contain personal data have got to meet certain data security requirements and respect the rights of cancellation, access, rectification and objection that belong to the people whose data they hold. In other words, if you write to the a company's data department and demand that they remove your personal data from their database, they've got to do it. (Of course, they write their contracts so that you have got to agree to allow them to hold your data if you want their services.)

Anyway, I wonder if copies of old translations qualify as "databases" in the meaning of Spanish and EU legislation.


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:20
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sworn translator Sep 10, 2007

Nicole Schnell wrote:

Of course there are no "sworn translators" in the US.


To be allowed to translate confidential documents for the government, the FBI and such, you need security clearance.

I was contacted recently regarding some translations that involved social security files and had to decline because I never bothered to obtain such a security clearance.


Right, but that's not a "sworn translator" in quite the same way the term is used in most of the world. There's really no equivalent to it in the U.S. as far as I know. It's not about security clearance but rather training and certification as a translator of certain types of documents.

[Edited at 2007-09-10 18:00]


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